Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Teeth?

Closeup of a blonde woman blowing a pink sugar-free gum bubble against a blue background

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), chewing gum has been around since ancient times, when northern Europeans used to chew a gum-like substance derived from birch bark tar! The ancient Greeks chewed resin from the bark of the mastic tree. American Indians and then New England settlers chomped on resin from a spruce tree. Today, the gum we chew is made of a mix of synthetic materials, and is no doubt a lot tastier than the tree resin chewed centuries ago. In an array of yummy flavors from sweet mint to piña colada to cinnamon, it couldn’t possibly be good for your teeth–or could it?

What Can Sugar-Free Chewing Gum Do for Teeth?

Any time you chew, you prompt your mouth to produce more saliva. Saliva is primarily water, but also includes some crucial electrolytes, enzymes, and antibacterial elements. That saliva flow serves to rinse out your mouth and neutralize some of the plaque acids that hang around in there. Those acids are produced when bacteria break down food in the mouth. If left alone, plaque and acids go on to cause enamel erosion and tooth decay. Because acidic foods and drinks temporarily soften your enamel, it is recommended you wait at least 30-60 minutes after a meal before brushing your teeth; instead, chew sugar-free chewing gum for 20 minutes after each meal in order to maximize its effectiveness and protection against enamel damage!

Is All Gum Healthy for Teeth?

Not all chewing gum is created equal. A sugary chewing gum is just as bad as candy, especially due to its sticky texture, and will increase your risk for tooth decay. Stick with chewing only the sugar-free variety of gum! When in doubt, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which a number of brands have earned for their scientifically proven safety and effectiveness.

Gum Is Never a Substitute for Proper Preventive Oral Care

Chewing sugar-free gum can certainly contribute to a healthy mouth, and it’s a fantastic alternative to sugary treats like candy, chips, and soda. However, chewing gum is no substitute for daily brushing and flossing. Remember to drink plenty of water, brush twice a day for two minutes each time, floss at least once daily, and keep up your biannual dental cleanings and checkups here at Heritage Dental. Additionally, we do not recommend chewing gum, even sugar-free gum, if it causes your jaw to hurt, click, or pop. At your next appointment, notify our expert team if you are experiencing any jaw pain or dysfunction. Schedule a checkup today!

What Should You Do in a Dental Emergency?

Headshot drawing of a dark-haired man in a teal suiteclutching his forehead in panic due to a dental emergency

No matter how great you are at maintaining your oral health, certain dental emergencies can happen at almost any time. If you do experience a dental emergency, remember to stay calm and to call our office ASAP. Don’t panic! If you’re not sure what constitutes a dental emergency, or you are uncertain about how to best handle one until emergency dental care can be received, check out our tips below!

1. Toothache or Abscess

A toothache can indicate a number of different things, including something as minor as a popcorn kernel lodged between your teeth. To remove any rogue food particles, try flossing and rinsing your mouth a few times with warm salt water. Or your tooth may be sensitive and painful when exposed to extreme temperatures or pressure due to receding gums or thinned enamel caused by vigorous brushing or teeth grinding. Ask us for a refresher on proper brushing technique or about a nightguard to protect your mouth during sleep. A toothache can also be a sign of something more serious, such as an untreated cavity or a tooth infection. Advanced decay and infections will need to be treated with root canal therapy so it’s critical to come see us before your tooth is damaged beyond saving. A dental abscess, caused by a bacterial infection, requires treatment ASAP before the infection spreads. There are three kinds of abscess: periodontal, gingival and periapical. If you have an abscess, you may feel pain, have a bad taste in your mouth, and develop fatigue and/or a fever. If you have trouble breathing or swallowing, go to the nearest emergency room!

2. Chipped or Cracked Tooth

A chipped tooth is usually just a cosmetic issue that can later be repaired with a dental crown or dental veneer. However, a broken or cracked tooth can allow bacteria to access and damage the sterile soft tissue inside your tooth, called the pulp. Even if a broken or cracked tooth isn’t yet giving you pain, come see us so we can seal up your tooth before decay and infection have a chance to set in.

3. Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth can usually be salvaged if it is kept moist and reinserted within the hour of losing it. First, handle your tooth only by it’s crown (chewing surface) and gently wash it off with milk or water. Then, if you feel comfortable doing so, try to re-implant the tooth yourself with proper positioning. If you hold it in place and there is no pain, it may just take and successfully re-implant. If you don’t feel comfortable re-inserting it, transport your tooth in a container of milk on your way to our office.

Call Us at (832) 437–5895!

Be sure to ask us any additional questions you have about how to handle a dental emergency. Heritage Dental delivers prompt emergency care so please call us as soon as urgent dental problems develop.

How Dental Health Affects Your Complexion

Brunette woman dabs her mouth with a tissue and considers her complexion as she looks into a small hand mirror

Your face is often the first thing that people notice about you. Everyone wants a clean, bright smile and complexion because they usually indicate good health. But did you know that your oral health can actually affect your complexion? It’s important to keep your mouth healthy and clean for clear skin. Read on to learn more!

Oral Bacteria vs. Skin

If not properly cleaned and washed away through daily at-home dental hygiene, your oral bacteria can quickly multiply and spread into your bloodstream. This can cause many potentially harmful health problems, including problems with our complexion.

It is believed that the bacteria linking oral health and acne is Propionibacterium. Propionibacterium is a gram-positive, anaerobic, rod-shaped genus of bacteria that can be found in both acne and various parts of the mouth. If Propionibacterium multiplies on your teeth and under the gumline, it can enter the bloodstream and negatively affect your skin. There have been several cases of patients with persistent acne that did not respond well to any medications until their dental issues were treated. Not everyone’s skin problems will be explained by poor oral health, but it is something to consider if you struggle with stubborn breakouts.

6 Ways to Protect Your Skin

One of the best ways to prevent Propionibacterium from negatively affecting the health of your skin is to maintain a superb oral care routine. Here are some dental tips to help prevent harmful bacteria in your mouth from entering your bloodstream:

1. Eat a well balanced diet. Try to avoid consuming too many foods and beverages that are high in acid and/or sugar.

2. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time using a fluoridated toothpaste.

3. Floss with traditional string floss or use a water flosser every day.

4. Drink plenty of water.

5. Say “no” to illicit drugs and tobacco.

6. Schedule regular cleaning and exams at Heritage Dental.

Come Visit Heritage Dental!

If you have been dealing with some persistent complexion problems lately, consider making a dental appointment before you make a dermatologist appointment. Contact our Heritage Dental team to schedule your next cleaning and checkup.

Are You Afraid of the Dentist?

Blonde young woman wearing a black shirt and watch covers her face with her hands because she is afraid of the dentist

Dental anxiety is a serious condition that affects the vast majority of adult Americans. While some of us just may feel butterflies in our stomachs at the idea of visiting the dentist, others may avoid going to the dentist altogether out of complete fear. It’s impossible to maintain optimal oral health without seeing the dentist, so what can you do to make visits more bearable?

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sometimes it’s just not enough to use various calming techniques before visiting the dentist. Some of us don’t like the feeling of losing control, especially of our ability to talk. Others may recall a particularly painful experience at the dentist’s office that they will never forget about. Fortunately, with sedation dentistry, you’ll feel deeply relaxed so that no treatment will faze you. At Heritage Dental, we’re proud to offer three different types of sedation dentistry, all with their own unique benefits.

1. Nitrous Oxide

Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a gas you inhale just before your treatment begins. Although you’ll be conscious during your procedure, you won’t feel a thing. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly after treatment, so you won’t feel groggy after your procedure.

2. Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation helps you feel sleepy and at ease during your procedure. Unlike nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation is delivered through a prescription pill, which you will take an hour or so before your treatment. It does take a while for the effects of the medicine to wear off, so be sure to arrange a ride home for when you’re out of treatment.

3. The Wand

Not many people have heard of The Wand because not many practices offer it yet! We’re lucky to have one of the newest products in dental technology here at Heritage Dental. The Wand is a computer-controlled injection device that can deliver a steady flow of anesthesia during your procedure, so you don’t have to be fearful of painful numbing shots leading up to your treatment.

Our Team Will Help You Remain Calm!

Don’t let dental anxiety prevent you from preserving your oral health. Dental sedation is just what you need to maintain a beautiful smile without having to get nervous about visiting the dentist. Let our experienced team at Heritage Dental help you feel at ease during your next visit. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Why Taking Your Toddler to the Dentist Is Important

Closeup of a brunette toddler with a pink bow in her ponytail after her parents took her to the dentist

Within six months of when your child’s first tooth erupts (which can happen as early as six months of age), it’s time to take them to the dentist! It may seem crazy to take your baby or toddler to the dentist because their teeth are only temporary, right? Well actually, it’s not crazy to teach your children good oral hygiene habits when they are young; it’s smart-parenting! Here, we’ll explain why childhood dental care is critical to your child’s overall oral health.

What Is the Role of Baby Teeth?

Although baby teeth aren’t permanent, they play an essential role in a child’s oral health and development. Your child will learn to eat, talk, and smile with these first teeth, so making sure that they grow in healthy and remain clean is of utmost importance. Visiting Dr. Nguyen soon after your child’s first tooth arrives gives him the ability to carefully track your child’s oral development from the get-go, and identify any potential dental issues they may face in adulthood.

How Do I Care for My Baby’s Teeth?

Caring for baby teeth is similar to caring for adult teeth. Teach your toddler superb oral hygiene habits early by letting them watch you brush your teeth, providing them with age-appropriate toothbrushes and toothpastes (make it fun and let them choose their own toothbrush color and toothpaste flavor!), and helping them learn to moderate their consumption of candy, sugary snacks, and fruit juice. As your child gets older, encourage them to wiggle their loose baby teeth gently instead of allowing them to vigorously force them out. This will prevent them from damaging their gums and negatively impacting how their adult teeth grow in.

How Often Should I Bring My Child to the Dentist?

Bring your child to see us every six months to ensure that their teeth and gums are healthy and developing properly. Dental visits are an additional opportunity to educate your children on the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene. Moreover, our friendly team can give you and your children tips, tricks, and techniques to jazz up your family’s oral hygiene!

Come Check Out Our Kid-Friendly Amenities!

If you’re looking for a family dentist here in Katy, look no further than Heritage Dental. We have a gentle team that strives to make our younger patients feel right at home. We even offer complimentary drinks and snacks in our lobby, TVs with Netflix® in our treatment rooms, and comfy pillows and blankets. Additionally, we are insurance-friendly, accept Medicaid and CHIP, provide an in-house Dental Savers Plan, and offer Saturday appointments! Contact us to schedule appointments for your entire family today.

Relax at Our Office with Dental Sedation

Dark-haired woman wearing a blue patterned shirt and red lipstick relaxes against a purple wall with her eyes closed

Does the thought of dental appointments give you sweaty palms? Many people suffer from dental anxiety, and it can impact your oral health if you skip out on seeing the dentist because of it. The good news is that it’s now more comfortable than ever to receive a dental treatment thanks to sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry helps you feel completely relaxed during your procedure, so that you can maintain great oral health without feeling any pain. At Heritage Dental, we’re proud to offer these types of dental sedation here at our practice.

1. Nitrous Oxide

Commonly known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is a sweet-smelling gas that you simply inhale. It allows you to feel completely at ease yet conscious during your procedure. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off within minutes, so you won’t have to worry about feeling tired or out of it after your procedure.

2. Oral Conscious Sedation

Like nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation helps you feel sleepy and restful during your procedure, but you’ll be awake the whole time. All you have to do is take a prescription pill an hour before your treatment and the effects will start to kick in. The main difference between oral conscious sedation and nitrous oxide is that it can take a while for the effects of the medication to wear off, so be sure to arrange for a ride home after your procedure is done.

3. The Wand

If the Wand sounds high tech, that’s because it is! We are excited to offer one of the latest advancements in dentistry to our patients. The Wand is a computer-controlled injection device that is able to deliver a steady flow of anesthesia during your procedure, so that you don’t have to go through a painful numbing process.

Heritage Dental Is Comfortable & Stress-Free

Aside from sedation dentistry, Heritage Dental offers a uniquely calm atmosphere so that you immediately feel at ease in our office. Help yourself to complimentary refreshments and WiFi and enjoy your favorite show on Netflix in our treatment rooms. We want you to feel stress-free and happy to see the dentist. If you have any questions about sedation dentistry or about any of the services we offer here at Heritage Dental, don’t hesitate to contact us. We hope to see you soon!

Floss Your Smile To Keep It Bright

Katy TX DentistOf course, you would expect to read about flossing on a dentist’s blog. Every time you visit the dentist you are asked whether you have been flossing regularly. Yet, do you know why the habit of flossing is seen as so important? If you truly understood what flossing does for your smile, you would rarely skip out on this vital habit.

Flossing is the most important thing you can do for your smile. Yes, you read that correctly. Now, if this shocks or surprises you, that means you truly do not know the benefits of flossing. You see, dental floss is the only tool designed to scrape away plaque from the teeth. Dental plaque is a dangerous substance that collects on the teeth throughout every single day. If you have ever run your tongue over your teeth at the end of the day and felt a fuzzy film coating them, then you know exactly what plaque feels like. And if you have ever scraped white stuff off from the sides of your teeth, then you know exactly what plaque looks like. It is a gross, sticky substance, and it is dangerous to your smile if it is not removed. (more…)

Got a Pain In the Tooth?

Katy TX Family DentistAt Heritage Dental, we want to know if you have a pain in the tooth. Our dental team understands that you or one of your family members may choose to avoid the dentist out of fear, or time constraints, or budget limitations. However, we also understand that avoiding the dentist will not relieve your pain – it will only make matters worse. The mouth is a very complex feature of the entire body. Unlike many areas, an issue with a tooth is not likely to go away on its own. If the proper intervention is not given within a proper time frame, you run the risk of excruciating pain and the loss of your tooth. (more…)

Gum Disease and Children

Katy TX Pediatric DentistGum disease is an infectious inflammation that can have serious effects on overall well-being. Severe gum disease is not pervasive in children, but it can and does happen.

The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. The symptoms of gingivitis include bleeding gums, chronic bad breath, pus pockets near the gums, swollen, red, irritated gums, and gum tissue recession. (more…)

Fluoride Guards Against Cavities and Decay

Katy TX Family DentistAs children are growing, parents pay close attention to their developing teeth as they erupt and form. They want to monitor the teeth closely to set them up for a lifetime of good oral health. You teach them how to brush and floss, limit sugar, and eat a balanced diet.  Conversely, as they enter adulthood, teeth are no longer growing, and people sometimes become lax and less attentive about our own oral hygiene.

One of the key ways to keep teeth in their best shape is with fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral found in nature, many foods, and in city water. Each day you are taking in some fluoride, but you are also losing it as our teeth experience demineralization, or erosion, from oral bacteria. (more…)